'Bridgegate' trial begins in New Jersey
three years after scandal
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[September 19, 2016]
By Joseph Ax
(Reuters) - Two former associates of New
Jersey Governor Chris Christie will go on trial on Monday for their
alleged roles in the "Bridgegate" scandal that helped derail his
U.S. prosecutors will deliver their opening statement in federal court
in Newark, New Jersey, against Bridget Anne Kelly, the governor's former
deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, the former deputy executive
director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The two defendants are accused of orchestrating the closure of access
lanes at the George Washington Bridge in September 2013 to punish a
Christie himself has not been charged, and he has denied any knowledge
of the alleged plot before it unfolded.
David Wildstein, another former Port Authority official and Christie
confidante, has pleaded guilty in the case and is expected to testify
for the government. He has claimed in the past that evidence exists
showing Christie was aware of the scheme.
The scandal, known as "Bridgegate," came to light in January 2014, when
Christie had easily won reelection as governor, and was seen as a
potential front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
Prosecutors will likely introduce emails and text messages between
Kelly, Baroni and Wildstein in an effort to prove they deliberately
arranged the lane closures as payback for Mayor Mark Sokolich. The Fort
Lee, New Jersey, Democrat refused to endorse Christie's 2013
gubernatorial campaign, which was trying to garner bipartisan support.
The resulting traffic jam wreaked havoc for town residents.
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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie reacts to a question during a
news conference in Trenton, New Jersey, U.S. on March 28, 2014.
REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo
The trial before U.S. Judge Susan Wigenton is scheduled to last
approximately six weeks.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by David Gregorio)
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